JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 2]

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When the Creator ‘formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being,’ (Gen 2:7 NASB) He made a very special garden for man to be safe in. In that garden, the natural laws were supernaturally suspended. Man need not fear the wildness of animals nor any plant life. He was safe. He had food a plenty. He had purpose and eternal life was for them as intended. Then, the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” [Genesis 2:16,17 NASB]

Some had questioned the fairness of this command. Why had God given a command that had doomed the rest of us? Were we set-up to fail?

First things first, why did God have to give such a command? Was that command really needed? Whenever a why question come up in Bible studies, I have learned (for years) to counter by using a similar question but replacing it with a ‘why not’. So, the counter question would be like this – Why would God not have given such a command? This question made more sense. For it positioned God in the rightful place of sovereignty. I am talking about ultimate authority. There are enough verses in the Bible about God’s authority. Psalm 135:6 best suits our purpose – ‘The LORD does whatever pleases him throughout all heaven and earth, and on the seas and in their depths.’ (NLT)

Let’s go back to the garden. The Garden is His! And as the Creator, He has every right to lay down any laws He deems right. Think of it this way. In your own home, it is you that set certain rules and parameters on how visitors should conduct themselves. Again, since the Garden is His, He sets the rules. The only difference is that His rules are for our ultimate good and benefit.

So, now, let us look closely at his commandment. One question bears asking. Could Adam have successfully kept the commandment? I believe yes. First, God is a benevolent Being. He would never had given this commandment to him if it was impossible to do. Frankly, if I had all the fruit of the thousands of thousands of trees available against one tree that will surely lead me to eternal damnation, I don’t think it will be that difficult. But yet Adam and Eve failed. Definately something to discuss in my later posts.

Until then blessings to you,

Johann Q

JESUS 101: Was God in Error? [part 1]

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The President of the Philippines paraphrased his version of the Adam and Eve story into his speech, after which he was bluntly colorful in his criticism of God. After he laid out how Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, the president stipulated that God basically set them up for failure. How? By putting in the garden dangerous elements such as the Serpent and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that would eventually tempt them to sin. Then, there is the commandment itself. Why would God give such a command? With these questions hanging unanswered, the president concluded with a question, “how can you rationalize a God like that?”

As a believer, I have to, at least, try to provide an answer.

First, allow me to tackle the president’s critism aspect on God’s being. This whole episode reminded me of another person who was critical of how God handled things. His name was Job.

Job was a wealthy man and was considered “blameless” and “upright” according to God. One day, the devil came before God where He boasted about Job’s goodness, but the devil argued that Job is only good because God had favoured him extravagantly. In the long run, after some cajoling by the devil, God had allowed the devil to put Job to the test to see after the devil’s torment if Job would turn and curse God. Job passed the first test, when after losing his business to marauders and all ten of his children to a devastating catastrophe, he still blessed God in his prayers. But then the second test was when the devil had inflicted upon his body with horrible dibilitating skin sores. At first, he seem to accept his circumstances, but after having a lengthy poetic discourse with what he thought were his friends, he bemoaned the injustice that God allowed evil people to prosper while he suffered. Job wanted to confront God and complain. Now, it would seem that Job may had gotten the upper hand of the argument, but God had a big lesson for him.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said, “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” [Job 38:1-4]

So, what is the lesson for us? I don’t know about you, but if God decides to come to correct me in the midst of a whirlwind, there can only be two logical ways for me to face him, with fear and humility. Why? Fear is easy enough. Anyone capable of controlling the weather is worthy of fearful respect. As the Bible says, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…’ [Proverbs 9:10] As to humility, the question that God brought up about where was Job… or that matter, where was I or you… when He laid the earth’s foundation… well, you have to see the logic. It is arrogance of any of us to be critical of God, especially when first you don’t have His power and lack the experiential knowledge of Creation. Fortunately, Job learned his lesson and he was blessed beyond imagining.

Meanwhile, there are many people who still wonder whether God erred and why we are paying for it? We will tackle this in my next post.

Until then blessings to you,

Johann Q

Jesus 101 – Depths to which you dig

Everyday, I get in my email from the Bible Gateway website, a daily verse. The verse I received below rang a bell and so, I had to write about it.

Romans 11:33
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

I remember hearing this insightful modern day parable. This is how it went.

A young farmer was working the farm of another man for ten years. One day, he wanted to go out on his own and purchase a piece of land to farm. But he had not saved enough to buy good bottom land. He ended up purchasing a piece of land that no one wanted. It was located in hill country. It was all he could afford but he was willing to make it work. The next day, with a plow on his shoulder, he had climbed the hill to the land that he had not really seen yet. When, he got there, to his disappointment, he discovered that the land had little fertile top soil and was filled with rocks and stones of different sizes. He returned home dejected and very depressed, so much so, that he had not gone back for years.

One day, his friend found him wallowing in self pity, saying what a fool he was for purchasing a useless piece of land. They both went back to take a look so he can show  his folly. When they got there, he started to weep again. But his friend looked around very intently then he picked up a handful of stones. Looking at them a little more closely, he whooped in laughter. The depressed farmer asked if his friend found his situation funny. Then, his friend showed him the stones in his hands. At first, he thought they were just pebbles but then he found that they were really unpolished diamonds and a variety of gems. His friend indicated that his was filled with them. The farmer started to meticulously mine his land. The deeper he went, the more riches he found. He was the richest man in the land.

That land represents our Bibles. You wouldn’t believe how many people have casually purchased a Bible then leave it on the shelf neglected and collecting dust. They fail to see that within those pages is invaluable treasure that comes in the form of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Enter Jesus. He is the ‘friend’ in the story and he sheds light to show what you, me… all of us (in one time or another) have missed out.

Jesus said, “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:20,21) So, in a nutshell, start digging through your Bible! And start digging deep! Put all your heart on it and you’ll see what true wealth is. And by the way, you don’t have to dig by yourself. Give me a call and I’ll help. I don’t mind adding more wealth to my bank account in Heaven.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

Jesus 101 – That you may know God

If there is a goal in my life, it is that I help people get to know God the same way I got to know Him. For the next several weeks, I am going to be both teacher and storyteller. We will delve in the Bible stories of Jesus. We’re going to start with the concept of how to know God through Jesus.

But why Jesus? In John 14, one of His disciples more or less asked him, ‘Lord, show us the Father?’ If you don’t mind, I’m going to paraphrase what Jesus said. “You’ve been with me this whole time, yet you still don’t know me. Well, stick with me kid and watch me closely!” In essence, getting to know Jesus is getting to know God… and getting to know Him intimately.

In John 17:3, Jesus made this statement within His long prayer, “And this is the way to have eternal life–to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” The words seem clear enough. The key to eternal life is to know God. Allow me to clarify that ‘to know of God’ is just not enough. It is too superficial. What Jesus meant was to go deeper. I am reminded of the time when a rich man came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16 NLT) Jesus’ response to him was somewhat more different than the revelation of John 17:3. He first cited that he should obey the last 6 parts of the Ten Commandments. “You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 19:18,19 NLT)

When the rich man boastfully told him that he did obey them all. Then, Jesus dropped the bomb (so to speak) on him. Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:21,22 NLT)

Believe it or not, Jesus’ final response to the rich man actually coincides with what he instructed to his disciples. Why was his approach different? Jesus knew the rich man’s heart and gave his answer on how the rich man asked it. You see, the rich man’s error was both fundamental and spiritual. The fundamental truth is this: Eternal Life can never be earned or bought because of our sin problem. Jesus gave him a spiritual solution but the rich man did not go for it.

His disciples asked, “Then who in the world can be saved?” I wonder if their question ‘miffed’ Jesus a little. For in this same chapter of Matthew 19, just before the rich man, there were a group of children that was brought to Him. And when his disciples tried to shoo them away, Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14 NLT)

Jesus’ declaration of children shouldn’t have been new to their ears because he had also recently told them similar things when they asked him who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. His answer was when he referred to a child and said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 18:3,4 NLT)

I don’t want to annoy parents all over, especially since I have no children of my own (except for being a pseudo-parent to my many nephews and nieces). But with what I have observed of kids when they start to talk and reason all the way to the legal age, it is rare for me to use humility to describe them. Even in Scripture, it says, ‘A youngster’s heart is filled with foolishness…’ (Proverbs 22:15 NLT) So, how are being like children a key to getting into the Kingdom of Heaven? And how does this match with John 17:3 on how we should know the only true God and Jesus?

To answer this might need a whole extensive Bible Study and probably many weeks of your time to provide adequate fundamental truths. But for this blog, I have to keep it short. So, here is the nutshell version.

Whenever, I tell good stories to my nephews, nieces and to many kids at Sunday School, I always saw and read the same expression of awe and belief on their faces. So, this is what I believe what Jesus meant that we should become like little children. I found that all children have a great capacity to be awed and to express faith. When I, in my late 30s, started to read about God and Jesus with childlike fascination, I felt like I was reaquainting with a long lost friend (except that I was the one who was lost). So, I encourage you to listen more to biblical stories by humbling yourself; by not being so skeptical even before the telling of the story. I have been walking with the Lord for over 25 years and I can testify that I got to believe in Him because I knew Him and I am still knowing Him today. But don’t take my word for it. Open your Bible to know Him and see for yourself.

Until the next post,

Johann Q

Please help me go mobile, donate at or share this link to others: https://www.gofundme.com/quadriplegic-needs-mobility

 

NLT – New Living Translation

‘miffed’ – put into an irritable mood